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Google brings Chrome OS Instant Tethering to more Chromebooks and phones

Judhajeet Das

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Tethering your laptop and phone can be a bit of a hassle. Google’s Chrome OS has long offered a solution called Instant Tethering that makes the process automatic, but so far, this only worked for a small set of Google’s own Chromebooks and phones, starting with the Nexus 6. Now Google is officially bringing this feature to a wider range of devices after testing it behind a Chrome OS flag for a few weeks. With this, Instant Tethering is now available on an additional 15 Chromebooks and more than 30 phones.

The promise of Instant Tether is pretty straightforward. Instead of having to turn on the hotspot feature on your phone and then manually connecting to the hotspot from your device (and hopefully remembering to turn it off when you are done), this feature lets you do this once during the setup process and then, when the Chromebook doesn’t have access to a Wi-Fi network, it’ll simply create a connection to your phone with a single click. If you’re not using the connection for more than 10 minutes, it’ll also automatically turn off the hotspot feature on the phone, too.

Tethering, of course, counts against your cell plan’s monthly data allotment (and even most “unlimited” plans only feature a limited number of GB for tethering), so keep that in mind if you decide to turn on this feature.

You can find the full list of newly supported devices, which include many of today’s most popular Android phones and Chromebooks, below.

Tech Passionate and Heavy Geek! Into Blogging world since 2014 and never looked back since then :) I am also a YouTube Video Producer and a Aspiring Entrepreneur. Founder, MyDroidDoes

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Android

YouTube TV is now available on Fire TV devices

Judhajeet Das

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Earlier this year, Google and Amazon reached an agreement to bring their streaming video apps to each other’s platforms, following years of anti-competitive, anti-consumer behavior on both of their parts. Initially, the official YouTube app launched on Fire TV devices, while Prime Video launched on Chromecast and Android TV. Today, YouTube TV has also now become available on Fire TV devices, including Fire TV-powered televisions, Amazon announced.

In a blog post, the company says the official YouTube TV app will launch on Fire TV Stick (2nd Generation), Fire TV Stick 4K, the all-new Fire TV Cube, plus Toshiba, Insignia, Element, and Westinghouse brand Fire TV Edition Smart TVs. It will also be supported on some previous generation Fire TV devices, including the Fire TV Cube (1st Gen), Fire TV (2nd Gen), Fire TV (3rd Gen — Pendant Design).

However, the app will not run on the 1st Gen Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.

YouTube TV is Google’s live TV streaming service, and a rival to Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now (recently rebranded as AT&T TV NOW), and others. It offers over 70 channels from networks like Discovery, TNT, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand programming, as well as an unlimited cloud DVR. This year, it also had an exclusive range of MLB game broadcasts.

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Amazon and Google had been at war for years, making things difficult for their end users. Amazon banned Google hardware from its shopping site on a number of occasions. They also feuded in 2017 over Amazon’s implementation of a YouTube player on its Echo Show, which Google said it did without consultation. YouTube pulled Amazon’s access, then Amazon worked around the problem by sending Echo users to the YouTube homepage instead.

While the companies battled, consumers lost out. And in the case of companies like Amazon and Google, those customer bases tend to overlap. A Chromecast user will want to watch Prime Video or buy Google products from Amazon. A FireTV user wants to watch YouTube. And so on.

As a result, the more neutral platform Roku became the most popular streaming platform in the U.S.

At the time of the original agreement, Amazon and Google said that other YouTube properties would come to Fire TV in the future, including YouTube Kids. That’s now the last remaining YouTube video app missing from Fire TV, and YouTube previously launched on Amazon hardware and YouTube TV begins rolling out today.

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Google’s Grasshopper coding class for beginners comes to the desktop

Judhajeet Das

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Google today announced that Grasshopper, its tool for teaching novices how to code, is now available on the desktop, too, in the form of a web-based app. Back in 2018, Grasshopper launched out of Area 120 as a mobile app for Android and iOS and since then, Google says, “millions” have downloaded it.

A larger screen and access to a keyboard makes learning to code on the desktop significantly easier than on mobile. In the desktop app, for example, Google is able to put columns for the instructions, the code editor and the results next to each other.

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Google also today added two new classes to Grasshopper, in addition to the original “fundamentals” class on basic topics like variables, operators and loops. The new classes are Using a Code Editor and Intro to Webpages, which teaches you more about HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

In case you are wondering why a “Using a Code Editor” class is useful, it’s worth noting that most of the coding experience in the first few courses is more about clicking short code snippets and putting them in the right order than typing out code by hand.

After completing all courses, users will be able to build a simple webpage and be ready to take on more complex courses on other platforms, like Codecademy, for example.

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Google Play Pass launches with 350+ premium apps and games, initially for $1.99 per month

Judhajeet Das

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Following the well-received launch of Apple Arcade, Google today is officially introducing its own take on subscription-based access to premium mobile games — or, in Google’s case, premium mobile apps, too. The new Google Play Pass subscription, arriving this week, will offer more than 350 apps and games that are completely unlocked, with no upfront fees, in-app purchases or advertisements. And the initial price point is something of a no-brainer — it’s just $1.99 per month for the first year, Google says.

That price will increase to $4.99 per month after the first 12 months have passed, which is the same price as Apple Arcade at launch. This launch promotion is only available until October 10, 2019, however.

The two services are similar in concept, as both are providing a large library of premium content for a monthly subscription. But there are some differences between the two.

For starters, Apple Arcade is filled with exclusives — meaning its games will not be found on Andriod. The reverse is not true for Google Play Pass. Instead, the Play Pass catalog includes many cross-platform titles, including some that even found their fame first on iOS, like ustwo’s Monument Valley.

In addition, Play Pass’s launch titles aren’t all games. There are also ad-free versions of popular mobile apps, like AccuWeather, Facetune and Pic Stitch, for example.

Notable launch titles include Stardew Valley, Risk, Terraria, Monument Valley, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Titan Quest and Wayward Souls. Some lesser-known additions include LIMBO, Lichtspeer, Mini Metro and Old Man’s Journey. Others, like This War of Mine and Cytus, are coming soon. And for little kids, there are some preschooler-friendly titles like Toca Boca classics and the My Town series.

More titles are added on a monthly basis, Google says.

pph realistic

Because it’s not relying on exclusives; Google’s catalog is more than triple the size of Apple’s at launch. That being said, Apple’s Arcade library is filled with gorgeous, high-quality games while Play Pass is rounded out with a lot more utilities, like weather apps and photo editors.

Play Pass ticket logoLike Apple Arcade, the new subscription gets its own tab in the Google Play app, where the games are organized by genre, popularity and other factors — just like a mini app store. However, unlike Apple Arcade, where games are only found in the Arcade tab or through search, Google Play Pass titles will appear directly in the Play Store. They’ll be designated with a Play Pass ticket badge, so you can easily identify them.

The Play Pass subscription also allows the games to be shared with the whole family. The family manager can share their Play Pass subscription with up to five other family members, who can each access the titles independently. This is comparable to Apple Arcade.

We already knew Google was working on an Apple Arcade competitor before today. The Play Pass subscription’s existence had been leaked, and Google later confirmed the service with a tweet. What we didn’t yet know was the launch date, lineup or the official pricing.

Google Play Pass service is rolling out this week to Android devices in the U.S., with more countries coming soon. A 10-day subscription is available, before it converts to the $1.99 per month limited promotion, followed by the $4.99 per month price point when the promotion ends.

While neither Apple nor Google is discussing the terms of their deals with developers, Google says the more people download a Play Pass title, the more the revenue developers receive on a recurring basis. It also explained that Google itself is funding the initial launch offer, so developers can gain more subscriber interest without impacting their revenue.

 

 

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